Concerns about adequate milk supply

If you're a breastfeeding mother, you're rightly concerned about your milk supply being adequate to meet your baby's needs. Take care, however, not to overly stress yourself about it. Breastfeeding works on the law of supply and demand, so as long as you aren't limiting your baby's access to the breast, you'll most likely produce plenty of milk for your infant.

While few people call into question their ability to make enough saliva, tears, blood and other bodily fluids, many mothers convince themselves that they don't have enough milk. Unfortunately the popular media plays into women's insecurities about their bodies and your breasts' ability to produce milk are no exception. Also, because a woman's breasts don't have lines on the outside measuring ounces (as bottles do), even some health care workers might be quick to tell a Mom to supplement with formula unnecessarily, possibly disrupting the breastfeeding relationship or leading to early weaning and other problems.

Here are a few things that may happen to a breastfeeding mother that might make her believe she doesn't have enough milk.

She stops leaking or never leaks.
Sometimes, as a woman's body adjusts to her baby's unique needs and schedule, she will stop leaking. If that happens suddenly, it is not necessarily a sign of a drop in milk supply. Some women don't leak at all and others leak profusely. Leaking has more to do with the sphincter control of the nipple of the individual woman, not an indication of her milk supply.

Her breasts suddenly seem smaller.
Another common phenomenon is that a mother's breasts will suddenly decrease in size at some point postpartum. This might happen a few weeks after baby's birth or a few months after, but again, it's not a good indicator of milk supply. One factor is that a mother loses weight and another is that her breasts become more efficient at producing milk for the baby when he's at the breast.

Baby seems hungry after nursing.
Some babies will seem fussy after a nursing and mothers interpret this as hunger. Oftentimes it's not. Some babies have a strong sucking need and want to suck after they're fed. Don't limit baby's time at the breast. It's best for his sucking to take place at the breast, but if you really need a break, it's ok to introduce a pacifier after breastfeeding is well established. If this stops the fussing, then you may have found your answer. Other reasons some babies fuss after nursing is because they have some teething pain that can begin weeks before a tooth appears.
Note: Some mothers will top off a baby with artificial baby milk after he's nursed because they want to make sure he "gets enough". This is a bad habit because a baby will often take the bottle, which makes the mother assume that he was hungry. That simply is not true, just as the fact that you can eat a second helping of food after you're full is an indication that you're underfed! Of course, if the baby is around 6 months old, it is appropriate to offer him a bit of solid food, but only after he's nursed at the breast. Breastmilk should take up the bulk of his calories for the first year of his life, and even longer.

So how DO you know if baby is getting enough milk? If your baby is gaining weight steadily according to a normal growth curve for a breasted infant (which is different from an artificially fed baby), gaining in length and head circumference, produces plenty of wet and dirty diapers for his age, is alert and gaining in developmental milestones, he's fine. Check with your baby's health care provider and a breastfeeding consultant if you're concerned.



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